Officers work suspected arson and a separate suspected hostage situation

Published 1:28 am Friday, July 4, 2008

An alleged drug deal gone bad is suspected to be the motive for the arson of a home on Morris Street while a complaint of a hostage situation turned out to be a simple domestic violence case.

The call of the suspected arson took place on June 18, at about 6:56 p.m. where officers and fire department personnel responded to 2210 Morris St., said Police Chief Jim Luke. When officers arrived on scene the fire was out.

Witness accounts state that two females entered the home and when they left the home was on fire. The fire was described to have begun in the living room, Luke said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

When officers spoke to the resident of the home he said that the females wanted him to sell them crack cocaine, but he refused to do so.

Through the investigation, a third suspect was established. The officers responded to one of the suspect’s homes and they said that a third female was involved. Melinda East and Sandra Severin said that Tiffany Watts was with them earlier that night when they stopped by the home on Morris Street. East alleged that they gave the resident of the Morris Street home $100 to purchase crack cocaine, but did not get the drug. They then left without the drug or the money, East stated in the police report.

Severin told officers that she was unaware of what was going on at the time, but that Watts set the Morris Street home on fire, Luke read from the report. Luke said the investigation discovered there was no electricity at the residence.

East, 37, of 2104 E. Canal St., was charged with accessory after the fact of arson. Watts, 37, of 357 Caesar Rd., and Severin, 26, of 1933 Daniels St., were both charged with arson, Luke said.

The motive for the arson is believed to be based on the allegations that money was given for the purchase of crack cocaine and that transaction was allegedly never completed, Public Information Officer Capt. Theresa Milar said. Officers suspect that is the motive is based on the suspects’ statements, she said.

Wednesday at about 1:18 a.m. a call came into the Police Department concerning a simple assault domestic violence situation. Officers made contact with the victim who told them that when she went to wake her 24 year-old boyfriend, Daniel D. LaBiche, he struck her in the face and proceeded to destroy the home at 617 Carter St.

When the victim attempted to get in her car to leave he broke out the window, took the car himself and left her there, Luke said. Ten to 15 minutes later LaBiche came back and allegedly pulled a gun on the victim saying “This ain’t over b****,” Luke read from the report.

The victim then ran out of the house and went to a neighbor’s house where she called the police. She told the officers that her two children were still inside and that in the past LaBiche has threatened them with violence. Based off the information given by the victim, officers treated the scene as a hostage situation.

A perimeter was set up around the home and Milar, who is also the department’s hostage negotiator, attempted to make contact with LaBiche. No contact was made, but one of the children came out of the home on their own. During a search of the home the other child was found asleep in bed. The search of the home found LaBiche hiding in the attic, Milar said.

A weapon was never found at the scene. LaBiche was charged only with simple assault domestic violence, Milar said.